New anti-extremist measures announced yesterday, targeting people and groups who “stay just within the law but spread poisonous hatred”, were described as draconian by some who might fall foul of legislation: Peter Hitchens, Richard Littlejohn, Melanie Phillips and Paul Dacre.
Although a future Conservative government would ban most extremist groups, hurried negotiations yesterday afternoon with Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere mean the self-styled ‘newspaper’ will be exempt, due to its “unique contribution” to the cultural life of the country.
A Home Office spokesman clarified why individual Daily Mail journalists will also be protected: “Peter Hitchens provides the bile which gets middle England up, worrying about immigrants every morning. Richard Littlejohn makes amusing quips about things he can’t be arsed to research properly. Melanie Phillips on a good day looks like she’s eating a dozen live wasps swimming in concentrated lemon juice; so everyone else can feel better about their appearance.”
Campaigning group Big Brother Watch said it was “…wholly wrong to label someone as an extremist without a due legal process. But we’d probably make an exception for the Mail’s editor, that complete ***t Paul Dacre.”